05.05.17

Weekly Column: Obamacare Has Failed; Time to Replace it is Now

In 2009, as part of a delegation from the National Governor’s Association, I had the privilege of meeting the President and the Vice President on their proposed health care plan, which later became known as Obamacare. Although I disagreed with his plan, it was a friendly conversation.  I wish the president would have considered some of our suggestions.

The most egregious and unsustainable portions of Obamacare were delayed. But, they are impacting us now. It was a smart political move by President Obama to delay the problems, and as I told him would happen back in 2009, those problems are hitting us square in the nose today.

I remember thinking that if all of the planned Obamacare provisions were in place, people like my dad, who is now 89, would be subject to more limitations on their health care delivery than the rest of us.  I also remember thinking that in South Dakota, we already had a plan to guarantee the renewal of insurance policies regardless of health, to assure that coverage was portable from one plan to another in the group market, and that there were limitations placed on the marketing of insurance plans so that there was a strict ratio of the most expensive premiums to the least expensive premiums. In South Dakota, this actually worked. We also allowed children to remain on their parents insurance policies until age 29, if they were a student. Once you were in the insurance system and kept your coverage in force, you never had to worry about pre-existing conditions.

Today, we also empathize with those who are concerned about running out of coverage if they or their family encounter a serious illness.  This is fixable, we know this because we did it in South Dakota.  You buy insurance assuming that when you really need it, it will be there. 

Obamacare will collapse under its own weight, regardless of whether or not the Congress takes action. We need a new plan that prioritizes patients and the free market. The government has never been good at running health care. You need only look at the VA or Indian Health Service to know that.

I think the American Health Care Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, is a step in the right direction. Removing the mandates, eliminating the taxes, providing more flexibility for states and clearing a path for the free market to work again are all good steps toward reducing premiums for families and employers.

But, it’s not perfect and I would like to see improvements, including a transition plan for folks closing in on retirement, clear assurances on how we’ll handle pre-existing conditions and stronger promotion of group insurance plans because that is the most effective delivery system we have.

 

Should the House bill be improved?  Absolutely. Is it still better that Obamacare? Without a doubt.

 

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